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According to the Small Business Administration, more than 50% of small businesses are home-based. Home-based businesses offer low overhead, helpful tax incentives, and the opportunity to work in your pajamas, among other benefits. But before you get started, there are some things—101, to be precise—that you should know about running a company from home. Here is our list of top tips, lessons, pitfalls, and more to get you on your way.
Building a solid customer base is much easier said than done. At the heart of the process is creating an organization that values its current customers and goes out of its way to ensure their satisfaction and happiness. Customers are smart — they can tell whether they are high or low on a company’s list of priorities. If they sense that you don’t care much about whether they do business with you, they’ll likely jump ship as soon as another company that really does care about them comes along.
Choosing the path of entrepreneurship, and working on your side business idea, is without a doubt riskier than being content with holding a 9-5 job. It requires way more sacrifice. However, once you’re reaping the lifestyle benefits of being your own boss and hustling your way into making significantly more money with your business idea than you ever could at your day job, the hard work will have all been worth it. So, let’s talk business ideas.
Department of Labor for the current statistics and demographics of different population groups to assess see what types of business products or services they might need or may wish to purchase online. If your business can solve a problem, or save people time or money, your venture will be more likely to have an “edge” over your competitors and succeed. People will have a reason to buy from you. When you believe you have a good idea and a potential profitable market, then write a business plan.
Mild spoiler alert: Viewers of the TV drama Orange Is the New Black might remember that the show’s main character made amends with one of her fellow prison inmates by making her a soothing lotion. Hopefully you won’t find yourself in prison, but if you find yourself wanting to start a home-based business, consider hand-making soaps and lotions yourself.
Kayla Itsines is probably one of the best success stories of this industry. She’s built a whole Kayla Fitness empire and grown her services from simply writing personal training plans to selling official fitness apps and books. You can jumpstart your career by offering free taster video classes and personal tips on your website and harvesting social media sites like Instagram and Facebook to promote your services.
Every household has a number of appliances, large and small. You can work on your own or on contract with appliance stores to cover their warranty service calls--or, best of all, you can do some of each. Plan to start slow and build your customer base on recommendations and referrals based on work well done. Consider developing relationships with contractors to be the go-to person to install appliances in newly constructed houses.
Moz’s Rand Fishkin agrees that there are potentially untapped opportunities out there for you to leverage. For example, there are almost certainly keywords in your niche that your competitors aren’t targeting. As you strive to reach the “content marketing maturity” zone, make a commitment to move beyond producing the same type of content that your competitors publish.
To do what you love, you first have to know what kind of work you really want to do. This requires intense introspection and an understanding of which kinds of work get your creative juices flowing and which kinds dry them up. Doing what you love also sometimes requires that you ignore what other people want you to do for a living. You may decide, for example, that you’d really like to start a recording studio in your home, but your spouse or best friend may think something more practical, such as buying into a fast-food franchise, makes more sense. Ultimately, you must decide what you’re going to do for a living — even if it means you can’t work at home.
Take time out for good behavior. It's not uncommon to find yourself working 60- to 70-hour weeks. But the good thing is, if you want to sneak out and see a movie at two in the afternoon, nobody's going to tell you not to do it. You have that freedom and flexibility as a home business owner. It can be tempting to work all the time when you start seeing how successful your business has become, but know when to relax. You've already established a smooth-running business. Take a break every now and then so you don't get burned out.
Please note that some of the links below are affiliate links and at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission. Know that I only recommend tools and learning resources I've personally used and believe are genuinely helpful, not because of the small commissions I make if you decide to purchase them. Most of all, I would never advocate for buying something that you can't afford or that you're not yet ready to implement.
Sure, there are plenty of businesses offering social media consulting services, but you can stand out from the crowd by focusing primarily on networks that are still gathering steam with businesses. Facebook and Twitter are still the top networks, but businesses tend to struggle the most with more visual platforms like Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr and Snapchat. All of these platforms have huge audiences, but many businesses don't realize how big they really are, how effective they can be and how to make them work for their niche. Snapchat has more than 158 million users per day, according to Business Insider. Instagram has more than 500 million daily active users, according to Statista, and Pinterest has more than 200 million.
Dog walkers take pooches out for their daily constitutional one or more times a day, either individually or in small groups. In some cities across the United States, like New York, dog walking alone can be a booming business. But it's actually more common for dog walkers to offer additional services, including playing with and feeding pets, bringing in newspapers and mail, and turning lights on and off.
Point number 1 is extremely true. You can convince yourself there will always be a better time to launch. The one caveat I would add to part 1 is that you spend at least a little time making sure there is an audience before you spend lots of time building something. You need honest real opinions from people as to whether they would pay for your product or service if it existed. Ideally you are getting paying customers before you have even launched to validate your offering or service. Wasted time can eat you alive. Once you have validation though, Corbett is right. Just launch there is no better time than now. You can fix all the problems later.
Pet sitting usually involves going to someone else’s house to take care of furry loved ones. Pet sitting could even involve living in someone’s house while the client is away. You have to think about the types of services you’ll provide and the types of animals you’ll take care of, but generally pet sitting is a low-cost, high-pleasure business idea.
Without realizing it, I skipped over doing the good work of pinpointing my target market and ideal clients, defining my brand and my offer, figuring out my Why, etc. I studied audience-building and content marketing tactics and put a lot of work into growing a community from the start, but because I wasn’t clear myself on the purpose of my brand, I didn’t have a consistent message to share with that community to build trust and gain their interest in any kind of offers.
There are more and more third-party ecommerce marketplaces available, like eBay, Etsy, Amazon, and even Airbnb or Fiverr, depending on your product or service. Building a business through one of those ecommerce marketplaces can simpler, since you’ll have to make fewer decisions, and you won’t have to build your website yourself—you’ll use an existing template.
Affiliate marketing. You know this one already. You include links to products you are promoting as an affiliate, and every time somebody buys the product, you get a commission. With a blog you can integrate advertising with content to make it even more likely you’ll get the sale. For example, you could do a product review — which is useful content — and then include a link to buy the product under an affiliate link.
If you’ve always wanted to publish your own book as a side business idea, there never been a better time than now. That’s because access to self-publishing tools and marketplaces has never been easier and more affordable. This eBook writer currently earns up to a couple of thousand bucks each month from six ebooks she published; while you can reportedly demand around $1000 per eBook project serving as a ghostwriter. My good friend, Caroline Beaton used freelance writing as her side business idea to eventually go from secretary to self-employed, while focusing on her own personal development and looking inward to discover what she's truly passionate about.
Online shoppers are getting more and more conscientious about their choices, and especially so when it comes to beauty products. Running a beauty shop that’s built on strong ethos and values that resonate with nature and animal lovers is one of the hottest online business ideas right now. Tropic Skin Care seems to be doing a great job at connecting with these shoppers.
Create a flier outlining your services. Before you do that, you need to know what those services will be. Do you want to simply do bookkeeping for a small business? A more involved level of accounting would be do actually work up balance sheets, income statements, and other financial reports on a monthly, quarterly, and/or annual basis, depending on the needs of the business. Other specializations can include tax accounting, a huge area of potential work. Service companies like Due.com assisted freelancers with payments. Many owners don't mind keeping their own day-to-day bookkeeping records but would rather get professional help with their taxes.
New entrepreneurs often find it difficult in determining what to charge. Factors that will influence your pricing include the value your customers place in your products and services and what they are willing to pay for them; your industry’s pricing guidelines; and your own pricing strategy and “formula.” Your accountant can guide you in determining how to charge enough for each “billable” hour or product to cover your expenses and to ensure you will be making a profit.
Thanks for posting this. I really needed to hear (what my husband has been saying for a while) that just because I have a blog, doesn’t translate into a real business. And here all along I think I have been doing something great and fabulous. That smack in the face was sooooo necessary. I need to really focus on where is the revenue going to come from. My approach to this is like a serious business but my actions say cool hobby.
For a small business on a modest budget, advertising must be cost effective, as the price can be prohibitive. ‘Businesses looking to take on advertising must weigh up their ROI,’ says James Blackman of CocoonFX Media. ‘If, for example, you’re considering an advert for £1,000 in a magazine with 12,000 readers, ensure that magazine is very much your target audience.’
Keep your clients well informed: When clients spend their money on you, they want to be kept apprised of your progress, not only to stay in touch with the project, but also to keep a watchful eye out for problems before they get out of hand. Do your clients a favor, and keep them informed about your project’s progress. Whether the news is good or bad, your clients and customers will appreciate your forthrightness and candor.
If you keep your money hidden in the attic or earning close to nothing in a savings account, you might want to consider putting it to better use through smarter investing as your side business idea. Sure, there are plenty dangers to look out for, but most personal finance experts will advise you to start learning about the stock market if you want to grow your wealth, and to avoid jumping too heavily into trends like Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies without proper understanding.
Yet another common problem encountered by home-based business people is frequent distractions that reduce productivity. In fact, distractions are everywhere for people who work from home. When faced with a difficult work task, it sometimes seems far preferable to run the vacuum, clean out a closet, walk the dog, have a snack, take a nap, raid the refrigerator, pull some weeds in the garden, or do any of the myriad other things that need doing around a normal household. In addition, people who work from home lack the motivation that peer pressure can provide in a regular office. They also face spouses and children who demand time and attention, as well as friends and neighbors who call to chat or stop by to ask favors.